Operating cost focus boosts Middle East's plumbing sector
Jan Lohoff, regional director MEA at Aliaxis, talks about his company and the opportunities in the plumbing and refurbishment market
With the construction market booming as a result of upcoming mega events, Jan Lohoff, regional director MEA at Aliaxis, says that the plumbing industry is quite buoyant in that aspect. He says: “Looking at the entire GCC MEP market, the drive is more towards sustainable transformation related to material and systems used, e.g., while copper and metal might have been used in the past, the trend is towards plastic piping systems, and sustainable and innovative solutions.
“For example, acoustic drainage piping systems, which reduce noise levels in buildings and increase the comfort of living, are becoming the preferred choice in high-end and prestigious projects that are known for setting new market standards.”
Lohoff also says that nowadays operating costs are being considered as important, which often leads to using plumbing material of better quality and value.
“LEED and other environmental standards, especially in the UAE, are of great importance as the country strives for a more sustainable environment. This also impacts new requirements for plumbing-related products due to the relevance of water quality and consumption,” Lohoff adds.
Elaborating on the refurbishment market, Lohoff says that several hotels have adopted refurbishment projects in the recent past. He says: “As several hotels have already started the process of refurbishment, owners and consultants are in full control of quality and material selection. Normally, during construction the focus has always been on design and external appearance, and less on ‘behind the wall’ plumbing materials. However, hotel owners are now considering long-term trends and their sustainable regional footprint, which is why even the entire plumbing system gets updated to match recent quality and performance standards.”
Giving reason as to why the hospitality sector has been picking up, Lohoff says that hospitality projects form one of the major sector of building developments in the GCC. He adds: “Hospitality buildings in the GCC are often also integrated in mix-use buildings, commercial and high-rise construction, which covers other sectors along with working according to hospitality standards.
“Hotels often set quality standards within the building industry. Head offices of hotel chains are also often operating from other regions (e.g., Europe or the US) and therefore integrate the latest and new technologies and standards. Hotels are often the pioneers in choosing such technologies that then gets adapted by other building sectors as well. In addition, hotels usually operate for over 30 years, while other residential developments might not aim for a similar lifecycle. Therfore, operating costs are becoming a much larger factor than initial construction costs.”
He adds that Aliaxis caters to the following hotel operators: Moevenpick, Kempinski, Four Seasons, Marriott, Crown Plaza, Hilton, Fairmont, Viceroy, Hyatt and Rotana.
Lohoff adds that the refurbishment practice should not be only for hotels. “Past-build residential and commercial buildings should consider refurbishments of plumbing parts when needed. These investments can increase the ROI to an extent that would be necessary for a healthy growing property market,” Lohoff says.
Products and projects
Aliaxis claims to offer a very wide range of plastic piping systems. He says: “We offer (hot and cold) H&C water piping system, drainage and acoustic piping system, sewage and underground piping, as well as the sanitary range as concealed cisterns. From polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), to polypropylene random (PPR), we have different connecting technologies (e.g., welding or push fit) and different standards (e.g., European or American).
“Aliaxis differentiates itself from other manufacturers by not selling only the limited piping material they produce, but serves its customers with the best solution according to their needs, application or budget.”
He says that that the company has local teams and support to work directly with key stakeholders as project owners, investors, architects, MEP consultants and contractors.
“We also launched locally different segment approaches to work on certain sectors in which we see ourselves as experts with a strong value proposition. The hospitality segment, including the refurbishment industry is one of our major success stories, having literally with all international top hotel operators’ key iconic references throughout the world and especially in the GCC,” Lohoff says.
Aliaxis’ plumbing products have been present in the region for the past 30 or more years. Lohoff says: “Our manufacturing companies, such as Marley, Durapipe, Akatherm, Wefatherm, Friatec, FIP, Redi, Nicoll and SANIT have always been considered within the GCC construction industry amongst the top brands, being well-established and represented by major local distributors. They also have a long local track record. Many of our old Aliaxis prestigious references are still fully operating without any needs of refurbishment, e.g., Fairmont on the Palm, Madinat Jumeirah, Park Hyatt Saadiyat Island and Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island. While those projects were built prior to our own local Aliaxis presence, with the establishment of our Dubai office in 2012, we were able to even further support owners, contractors, and consultants by guiding them with after sales support, customising MEP developments and specifications, and providing concrete project tracking of the latest developments in the market.
“Shortly after establishing our first office in Dubai, we also added staff members in KSA to expand the local team geographically across the region to serve our customers even better. Recent projects that have been secured since the local team was established include the refurbishment of the Address Hotel Downtown, Signature Residences by Taj, Amiri Hospital Kuwait, and Four Seasons in Kuwait, Crown Plaza Dubai or the Hilton Double Tree and Garden Inn in Riyadh.”
This year after the successful focus on segment oriented solutions in the building material sector, Aliaxis further added the product portfolio related to industrial and infrastructure construction projects. Lohoff says: “A key segment we focus on is water treatment. Aliaxis products from Friatec, FIP or Straub are already used today in desalination or water treatment plants or used within the gas and water networks in the GCC.”
Lohoff says that many of Aliaxis’ innovations address the environmental footprint (e.g., SANIT water saving concealed cisterns, no-waste policy within production/recyclable material). “No material is wasted during production as plastic is a great material to be recycled. Our sanitary brand SANIT is also a great addition to match LEED and water saving standards, as their flushing mechanism can be adjusted to a minimum that exceeds market settings.
“Acoustic drainage piping systems is another example (special drainage to reduce sounds to improve the living in comfort, eases the work of contracting company as no lagging is required for special acoustic drainage) – we have had past experience whereby acoustic drainage has eased the building process as no staff has to be trained for unnecessary lagging of the pipes. Acoustic is a key topic as relaxation is one of the key standards necessary in a hotel where silence and the highest acoustic standards play a large role.”
In a nutshell, Lohoff concludes by saying that Aliaxis specifically develops products for high-rise building developments that can improve and optimise space-saving and thereby offer reliable solutions.